Order your 75th Anniversary Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards Tickets today!

I arrived home today to find my invitation or announcement for the 75th Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards in the mail! Yippee!!! I immediately ordered my tickets!

The Awards will be presented on
Tuesday, September 14th at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.

Recipients include Elizabeth Alexander, the poet, essayist, playwright and teacher who
received national notoriety last year with the penning of Praise Song for the Day the poem read during the Inaugural ceremonies for President Barack Obama. Alexander will receive the Lifetime Achievement in Poetry.

Novelist Kamila Shamsie will be honored for her latest work Burnt Shadows,

published in 2009 by Bloomsbury Publishing. On its author Website, Bloomsbury describes the novel as “an epic narrative of disasters evaded and confronted, loyalities offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed.” A native of Pakistan, Shamsie is also the aut
hor of In the City by the Sea, Kartography, Salt and Saffron and Broken Verses.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Non-Fiction is William Julius Wilson. In describing Wilson, the press information states, “Wilson is the author of a number of c
ritically acclaimed and culturally challenging works, including the 1978 publication The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions. In this work, Wilson argued that the significance

of race was declining and an African-American’s class was comparatively more important in determining his or her chances in life. His most recent book, More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City, was published in 2009. A sociologist, Wilson holds a Ph.D. from Washington State University. In 1996 he joined the faculty at Harvard University, where he is among an exclusive group to hold the highest professional distinction of University Professor. Among his many honors, he is a recipient of the Burton Gordon Feldman Awards for “outstanding contributions in the field of public policy.”

Rounding out the honorees is Oprah Winfrey receiving the Lifetime Achievement A
ward. In announcing Winfrey’s selection the Wolf jury notes, “Winfrey, often called the “most influential woman in the world,” is a television host, businesswoman, and philanthropist. Her difficult childhood – born out of wedlock, raised in poverty, sexually abused – is well documented and she is widely respected for overcoming hardship. Through her television talk show, Winfrey launched Oprah’s Book Club and single-handedly brought the joys of reading to millions of people around the world and re-engaged those whose interest may have waned over time. Her commitment to issues of diversity and human cultures runs through the topics she addresses on her show, the books she recommends, and the cultural arts she financially supports, including the 2009 movie Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire and the Broadway production of The Color Purple.”

Previous winners of the prize which “remains the only juried American literary competition devoted to recognizing books that have made an important contribution to society’s understanding of racism and the diversity of human cultures” include Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Diaz, Gwendolyn Brooks and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Prize was established in 1963 by Elizabeth Anisfeld Wolf.

For more information on the Awards visit here.

Review: "Sugar – A Novel"

In October of last year author Bernice L. McFadden set in motion a plan to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the publication of her debut novel Sugar. The publication anniversary was January 9, 2010. I’m not sure if she reached her mark, but I do know that she sparked a renewed interest in her work.
As I write this review almost a year later, I am apologetic because I’m not sure when I first noticed the posting and I unfortunately did not read it well because I thought it was a year long campaign. That being said, if you have not read Sugar, please do so. Why you ask? Well continue to read and I’ll give you what I believe are a few good reasons.
Set in rural Arkansas in the 1950s, Sugar is a story of friendship, acceptance and the love that must exist for the aforementioned to thrive.
When Sugar Lacey arrives in the sleepy town of Bigelow, Arkansas heads turn and tongues begin to wag. You see Sugar is not like the women of this small town. She is worldly, wears vibrant colors from head to toe and the “good” women who reside in this town see her as nothing but trouble. Based purely on what they see, the women have labeled her and while the label may not be far from the truth a “welcoming committee” is not on the horizon.
The lone dissenter in town is Pearl Taylor, Sugar’s neighbor on Grove Street. While Pearl is curious about the comings and goings of her new neighbor in #10, she has not turned a cold shoulder. Pearl feels a connection to this woman, but can’t quite put her finger on why.
McFadden does a wonderful job of delving into the various characters and weaving a tale that is so real that you can imagine your grandmother telling this story. By shifting between characters and telling the story from their point of view, McFadden invites the reader into Bigelow and the friendship that develops between Sugar and Pearl.
Pearl works to tame Sugar while the younger woman attempts to add some spice to the sadness that she sees permeating the soul of her neighbor. With a supporting cast of characters including Pearl’s husband Joe and her overly critical friends, McFadden’s prose takes you into the depths of Bigelow. You become the new neighbor watching in on the lives of these characters. McFadden adds just a hint of suspense and wonder that keeps you turning the pages. The drama unfolds so crisply that when it all comes together you’re left shaking your head saying “You’ve got to be kidding me, or better yet ‘Girl shut yo’ mouth'”
So if you’re not familiar with Bernice McFadden, make today the day that you change that and go pick up a copy of Sugar. While you’re at it, pick up This Bitter Earth, a sequel to Sugar and Glorious, McFadden’s latest novel released this year.
The not so flattering photo above is of me holding a copy of Sugar, which was one of the requests of McFadden to help spread the word about the 10th Anniversary. As stated above I blew the whole concept, but I hope that you will stop here to learn more about this very inspirational and down to earth author.

Summer Reading – reviews to come

I’ve been busy this summer trying to catch up on reading that was pushed to the backburner this winter and spring.

Keep an eye out for reviews of the following titles:
This should keep me busy and actively posting over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll drop in and check out the reviews and offer your feedback.

Why Clevelanders are angry with LeBron James

So it’s been a week almost to the minute since LeBron James took the hearts of Cleveland Cavs fans and dumped them a steamy and hot Lake Erie. There their hearts were left to steam, bake and boil – sending our feelings about “The King” into the likes of a Massachusetts clam bake!

You see for months there has been speculation and innuendo, however those of us who chose to believe the words that were uttered from “The King” were confident that he would stay at home and really become the ROYALTY he proclaimed himself to be.
Why you ask did we feel this way? Well he was passionate about his love for his hometown of Akron, Ohio in particular and Northeast Ohio. He was quoted as saying he recalled “the fumble, the drive, and the shot” so he understood the angst of Cleveland fans and he wanted to bring joy to the area. HE WAS ONE OF US!
But in one fell swoop he shattered that dream and became in the minds of many, just another shallow albeit well paid athlete.
The problem is the money he left on all of the tables, so it wasn’t about the money it was about the ring. I have problems believing that, because although I won’t go as far as Dan Gilbert and say that he quit during the Boston series – something went terribly wrong! As the self proclaimed leader of that team I will say that his drive and desire for a ring was not present! So we the fans were let down by that performance or lack thereof.
The Cavs organization however does not get a pass. Something went terribly wrong within that group of men, and it really started when this team sport was relegated to the backseat. It has been clear for the last seven years that many of the problems with the team stemmed from the lack of team coaching.
What do I mean by this? Well it appears as though the plays and the focus of these Cavalier teams have been to elevate James, not the entire squad. The team members surrounding James were far from scrubs, but how focused and determined are they when their worth and ability is relegated to the background!
The strength of a true team is shown when the least of them can grow, and become an asset. That has not been the case in the recent past for the Cavaliers, but we hope it will be the mandate for the Cavs of the future.
“The King” has left the building and the Cavs will be a much better franchise because of it – Let’s go CAVS!!!